Girl Scouts of Central Maryland Troop 124 of Jarrettsville recently attended the 2015 More Powerful Together 26th annual National Service Learning Conference. Troop Leader Melissa Hawkins nominated her troop for the 2015 NYLC Youth Leadership for Service-Learning Excellence Award by choosing an essay written by two girls about their Adopt-A-Park Bronze Award Project. Although the troop did not win an award, they were invited to attend the conference as Showcase presenters for their Adopt-A-Park Bronze Award Project.
The conference gathers more than 1,500 youth and adults, from across the country and the WORLD, for three days of learning, inspiration, and connection. This intergenerational event creates a unique atmosphere where youth bring incredible energy and passion to discuss education and social policy. Both youth and adults gain the tools, resources, ideas, and support to return home to improve their communities. It is the opportunity to become More Powerful Together.
Troop 124’s Adopt-A-Park showcase reflected ties to the National Leadership Standards (Embedded in Girl Scouts Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards). They described the impact on their community and offered ideas to be replicated by the conference attendees. Each girl had an opportunity to ‘woman’ the table for a one-hour session and had the opportunity to field questions and view other projects at the showcase.
Troop 124 completed the MEDIA Journey and created a Public Service announcement for the Harford County Adopt-A-Park Program. The Girl Scouts visited the Abingdon library in Harford County and used a 3-D printer to create 3 Keys with the words “Discover, Connect, Take Action” to represent the 3 keys to leadership in Girl Scouts. These keys were displayed at the conference and served as a conversation starter for conference-goers. They also had the opportunity to create a public service announcement using green screen technology. They edited the video and embedded a photo slide show of their years participating as park stewards in the Adopt-A-Park program. This video served two purposes: 1) To be used at the conference to display at the showcase table and 2) To promote the program, throughout Harford County to other Girl Scouts, 4-H, religious/youth organizations, and Boy Scouts in an effort to gain more interest, and to get other troops or groups to have a one-time experience on Global Youth Service Day, which was April 19, 2015.
Troop 124 also created a visual that displayed the goals of the Adopt-A-Park project. While the girls were stationed at the showcase table, conference attendees had the opportunity to walk around and view the public service announcement, the display board, and ask questions with the troop members. The girls presented information and had the opportunity to interact with young people from middle school and college level about their Adopt-A-Park project. They met many people from around the world and engaged in conversations about making a difference in their community by taking action. One former Girl Scout member offered advice to the girls about remaining in the Girl Scouts throughout middle and high school in order to learn valuable life skills.
All of the girls in Troop 124 had the opportunity to view other exhibits that won national awards for service learning and leadership. Each booth had interactive activities that taught the girls how to get involved in a cause that would improve their community and benefit others. One booth involved the girls making trail mix in a small container, labeling the ingredients, and then writing a short note that would be delivered to a homeless shelter. At another booth, the girls stuffed soft dolls and sewed them closed. The dolls would then be donated to homeless centers and underprivileged children. While they worked on the dolls, the girls were presented with statistics about homelessness in America.